How Colorado schools are helping teenagers get the COVID vaccine

This week, the federal Centers for Disease Control opened vaccine eligibility to children aged 12 to 15, clearing the way for most middle and high school students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Children in that age group drove an increase in cases in April and a corresponding increase in school outbreaks and quarantines. Getting more children vaccinated is the key to more normal schooling and more normal social lives, school officials and doctors said.

“We are seeing an increase in students testing positive and most of our quarantines are due to students testing positive,” said Theresa Myers, a spokesperson for the Greeley-Evans school district. “We’re hoping in the fall that we have more students vaccinated so we can reduce those disruptions.”

As of Thursday, eligible children can get vaccinated anywhere that offers the Pfizer vaccine, though they do need parental permission. Polls have found that from 30% to 50% of parents plan to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, but others are more cautious. So far, K-12 schools are not requiring the vaccine, though a growing number of colleges and universities are.

In the final weeks of a disrupted school year, some districts are partnering with health care providers and community groups to run clinics especially for students.

Denver Public Schools has partnered with Denver Health to offer the vaccine at its 18 school-based health centers. Jeffco Public Schools vaccinated more than 1,100 students at a recent drive-up clinic and plans to offer several more. For some students, their second shot falls on graduation day.

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